Mystical Dimensions of Islam

Mystical Dimensions of Islam

Foreword by Carl W. Ernst
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 544
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807869338_schimmel
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  • Book Info
    Mystical Dimensions of Islam
    Book Description:

    Thirty-five years after its original publication,Mystical Dimensions of Islamstill stands as the most valuable introduction to Sufism, the main form of Islamic mysticism. This edition brings to a new generation of readers Annemarie Schimmel's historical treatment of the transnational phenomenon of Sufism, from its beginnings through the nineteenth century.Schimmel's sensitivity and deep understanding of Sufism--its origins, development, and historical context--as well as her erudite examination of Sufism as reflected in Islamic poetry, draw readers into the mood, the vision, and the way of the Sufi. In the foreword, distinguished Islam scholar Carl W. Ernst comments on the continuing vitality of Schimmel's book and the advances in the study of Sufism that have occurred since the work first appeared.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0271-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  3. FOREWORD to the 35th Anniversary Edition
    (pp. xv-xx)
    Carl W. Ernst

    Mystical Dimensions of Islam, from its first appearance in 1975, has become the standard English-language handbook on the subject of Sufism or Islamic mysticism. Readers have appreciated the way the book combines careful and wide-ranging scholarship with a direct and approachable style, making it an excellent introduction to the topic. In the original foreword, Annemarie Schimmel described the dauntingly difficult character of Islamic mysticism as a subject of academic research. At the same time, she acknowledged that it was the repeated demands of her students at Harvard that caused her to put her lectures into book form. What is it...

  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  5. FOREWORD
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
    ANNEMARIE SCHIMMEL

    To write about Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, is an almost impossible task. At the first step, a wide mountain range appears before the eye—and the longer the seeker pursues the path, the more difficult it seems to reach any goal at all. He may dwell in the rose gardens of Persian mystical poetry or try to reach the icy peaks of theosophic speculations; he may dwell in the lowlands of popular saint worship or drive his camel through the endless deserts of theoretical discourses about the nature of Sufism, of God, and of the world; or he may be...

  6. THE ARABIC ALPHABET AND NOTE ON TRANSCRIPTION
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  7. THE MUSLIM YEAR
    (pp. xxix-2)
  8. 1. WHAT IS SUFISM?
    (pp. 3-22)

    In recent years many books have been published on Sufism and the spiritual life in Islam. Each of them has touched upon a different facet, for the phenomenon usually called Sufism is so broad and its appearance so protean that nobody can venture to describe it fully. Like the blind men in Rūmī’s famous story, when they were made to touch an elephant, each described it according to the part of the body his hands had touched: to one the elephant appeared like a throne, to another like a fan, or like a water pipe, or like a pillar. But...

  9. 2. HISTORICAL OUTLINES of CLASSICAL SUFISM
    (pp. 23-97)

    “Islamic mysticism is the attempt to reach individual salvation through attaining the truetauḥīd,” says one of the leading Western orientalists.¹ In fact, the quintessence of the long history of Sunsm is to express anew, in different formulations, the overwhelming truth that “there is no deity but Allah” and to realize that He alone can be the object of worship.

    The history of Sufism is a chart showing some of the stations on this path of interpretation, some of the forms in which this one reality was expressed, some of the different ways in which the mystics tried to reach...

  10. 3. THE PATH
    (pp. 98-186)

    Mystics in every religious tradition have tended to describe the different steps on the way that leads toward God by the image o£ the Path. The Christian tripartite division of thevia purgativa, thevia contemplativa, and thevia illuminativais, to some extent, the same as the Islamic definition ofsharī‘a,tarīqa, andhaqīqa.

    Thetarīqa, the “path” on which the mystics walk, has been defined as “thepathwhich comes out of thesharī‘a, for the main road is calledshar‘, the path,tarīq.” This derivation shows that the Sufis considered the path of mystical education a branch...

  11. 4· MAN and HIS PERFECTION
    (pp. 187-227)

    The position of man in Islam, and especially in Sufism, has been a subject of controversy among Western scholars. Some of them have held that man, as “slave of God,” has no importance whatsoever before the Almighty God; he almost disappears, loses his personality, and is nothing but an instrument of eternal fate. The concept of “humanism” of which European culture is so proud is, according to these scholars, basically alien to Islamic thought. Others have sensed in the development of later Sufism an inherent danger that might result in an absolute subjectivism, because the human personality is, so to...

  12. 5. SUFI ORDERS and FRATERNITIES
    (pp. 228-258)

    Al-mu’min mir’āt al-mu’min, “the faithful is the mirror of the faithful”—that is a Prophetic tradition that the Sufis considered an excellent maxim for social intercourse. They see in the behavior and actions of their companions the reflection of their own feelings and deeds. When the Sufi sees a fault in his neighbor, he should correct this very fault in himself; thus the mirror of his heart becomes increasingly pure.

    The practical application of this maxim is clearly visible in the history of Sufism and leads to one of the most pleasing aspects of the movement, namely, to the fraternal...

  13. 6. THEOSOPHICAL SUFISM
    (pp. 259-286)

    The main current of moderate orthodox Sufism had been systematized by Ghazzālī, yet his own works contain views that were to develop in full in that stream of Islamic theosophy against which he had fought so relentlessly.His Mishkāt al-anwār, “The Niche for Lights,” is the book from which most of the later Sufis start. The clearest expression of the light mysticism that had been known to the Sufis from early times and was first set forth explicitly in this work of Ghazzālī’s is found in the mystical theories of Shihabuddin Suhrawardi.¹

    Suhrawardi was born in 1153 in the same...

  14. 7. THE ROSE and the NIGHTINGALE: Persian and Turkish Mystical Poetry
    (pp. 287-343)

    One of the questions that has been discussed frequently in connection with Persian lyrical poetry is whether this literature should be interpreted as mystical or as erotic.¹ The defenders of the purely mystical meaning of Hāfiz’sghazalsare as vehement in their claims as those who find in his poetry only sensual love, earthly intoxication by “the daughter of the grape,” and sheer hedonism. Yet both claims are equally wide of the mark.

    It is typical of Persian lyrics that certain religious ideas that form the center of Islamic theology, certain images taken from the Koran and the Prophetic tradition,...

  15. 8. SUFISM IN INDO-PAKISTAN
    (pp. 344-402)

    The western provinces of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent had become part of the Muslim Empire in 711, the year in which the Arabs conquered Sind and the adjacent provinces northward up to Multan.¹ The Muslim pious in these areas were, in the early centuries, apparently interested mainly in the collection ofhadīthand in the transmission to the central Muslim countries of scientific information from India (mathematics, the “Arabic” numbers, ings may sometimes have reached the heights of mystical experience. Spiritual contacts between the Muslims and the small Buddhist minority, as well as with the large group of Hindus (who were...

  16. 9. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 403-408)

    Khwāja Mīr Dard is a typical example of later Sufi life and thought: poet and mystic, fundamentalist and follower of both Ibn ‘Arabī and Ahmad Sirhindī, fighter against all kinds of innovation and lover of music and art, he is thecomplexio oppositorum.

    It is symptomatic of the development of Sunsm in the nineteenth century that the emphasis was placed once more upon the person of Muhammad. The Indian orders of Mīr Dard and of Ahmad Brelwī, the fighter for freedom, are calledtarīqa muhammadiyya. Indeed, Sayyid Ahmad Brelwī had taken pledge from the classical Sufi orders and also in...

  17. APPENDIX 1 LETTER SYMBOLISM IN SUFI LITERATURE
    (pp. 411-425)
  18. APPENDIX 2 THE FEMININE ELEMENT IN SUFISM
    (pp. 426-436)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 437-468)
  20. ADDENDUM TO THE BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 469-474)
  21. INDEX OF KORANIC QUOTATIONS
    (pp. 475-476)
  22. INDEX OF PROPHETIC TRADITIONS
    (pp. 477-478)
  23. INDEX OF NAMES AND PLACES
    (pp. 479-496)
  24. INDEX OF SUBJECTS
    (pp. 497-512)